Black Mountain Research explains its mission. James Elkins kicks off the three videos embedded from BMR’s archive. He’s going to bridge the research element and self-reflexivity, and, the practice-based credential (Ph.D.) formally theorizing artistic practice.
Over the last 20 years art has eased its way into academia. Past the door of the artist’s studio and up the back stairs it tiptoed until, in a very bold move, it seated itself in the commissioner’s chair. Where once art reacted against academies from the outside, art, and the artists who make it, now work from within the institution. Artists interested in pursuing a doctoral degree will have heard time and again about ‘the critical function of art’. Indeed, many theorists would insist on art being defined from this state of opposition (the ‘avant-garde’). But to understand the potential of art today it becomes impossible to separate it from the academic institutions that use its name to label their distinctive, often daring, new departments. – Daniel Rourke, Thoughts On Art Practice PhDs
“Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valorised in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange.” Jean-Francois Lyotard (from D.Rourke)
“Practice is a set of relays from one theoretical point to another, and theory is a relay from one practice to another. No theory can develop without eventually encountering a wall, and practice is necessary for piercing this wall.” —Gilles Deleuze
For background, see:
basic definitions: Research Methodologies for the Creative Arts & Humanities: Practice-based & practice-led research
Research that takes the nature of practice as its central focus is called ‘practice-based’ or
‘practice-led’ research. It is carried out by practitioners, such as artists, designers, curators, writers, musicians, teachers and others, often, but not necessarily, within doctoral research programmes. This kind of research has given rise to new concepts and methods in the generation of original knowledge.
It is important to make a clear distinction between practice-based research and pure practice. Many practitioners would say they do ‘research’ as a necessary part of their everyday practice. As the published records of the creative practitioners demonstrate, searching for new understandings and seeking out new techniques for realising ideas is a substantial part of everyday practice. However, this kind of research is, for the most part, directed towards the individual’s particular goals of the time rather than seeking to add to our shared store of knowledge in a more general sense. Scrivener argues that the critical difference is that practice-based research aims to generate culturally novel apprehensions that are not just novel to the creator or individual observers of an artefact; and it is this that distinguishes the researcher from the practitioner (Scrivener, 2002).
excerpt, Practice Based Research: A Guide, Linda Candy (pdf)
Art Practice As Research (portal) at Thinking Practice
Practice in the Flesh of Theory: Art, Research, and the Fine Arts PhD – Natalie S. Loveless
This interests me, cybernetically, as a paradoxical instigation of the academy, resolving as it does an education given to mediate to some degree the contradiction between ‘elite exchange’ and ‘elitist knowing;’ (my terms.) At the same time, informally, my own art practice is coordinated to (re)search at the scale of its art making, so is research through, and with, art making.